BY GRACE TIMOTHY
Writer. Vogue (US&UK), Glamour, ST Style, StyleDotCom, Vanity Fair… also#MothersCollective founder and athttp://www.thepregnantbeautyguide.com and don’t forget to have a read MOTHERS COLLECTIVE for more awesome mum stuff! x
When I got pregnant I was working at a magazine in London. Technically we already lived outside of London – we were in Brighton for 5 years – but really I spent each working day in town and most of my socialising was done there too, a mere 65 minute commute from home. But our surprise baby called for a rethink. My husband works here in Sussex, my parents live here, we could afford a house here, and the real clincher – my gynaecologist lives here.
When we exchanged on a house in the countryside, and prepared to move even further away from Wholefoods and Automat and Selfridges and Leon, I did lose my shit a bit. From what I’d heard early motherhood can be quite lonely, and I divulging my baby’s every bowel movement to the postman, the only other person I’d see did until 5pm. It sounded like nobody would be coming to visit, either. A friend of mine invited me up to London for a last dinner date – just when my stomach, face and ankles were stretched to capacity – and when I declined, she reasoned, “But when you have the baby we won’t see you anymore!” So there I was, consigned to a life of corn fields and spiders the size of your fist.
But thankfully – did you see this coming? – I am a total convert. I don’t yet own Hunter wellies or a Barbour jacket, but I do quite like cows now and life outside of London suits me down to the [heavily pot-holed] ground. The sound of footsteps pounding the pavements is now the occasional clip-clop of horses’ hooves on an otherwise empty road. I spend all day exclaiming, “Tractor! Pig! Windmill!” as we drive to and from town. My daughter is well into digging around in the dirt, swinging from a great old oak tree and chasing cats. We are living some kind of Enid Blyton dream.
Meeting other mums was a struggle, though. I look at London friends enjoying the broad mix of options to fill maternity leave with, not to mention the giant number of cool places to just be in and feel serious pangs of jealousy. There was nothing for new mums bar a nursery rhyme sing-song in the library which was just crawling with huge toddlers, all seemingly set on bludgeoning me with a soggy Sophie. There was no café where mums tended to congregate and the local breastfeeding group just wasn’t for me. But what I did find were vast green spaces, quiet gardens, grand old country estates and the beach. I quickly realised all the things I rolled my eyes at as a teenager, the things I desperately wanted to get away from, were the greatest assets for a new mother who needs to get out the house. Then I found as soon as I mentioned I had worked in London, other fellow ex-Londoners seemed to shoot in like I was some kind of magnet attracting the slightly jaded, stir-crazy women amongst the swarms of bright-eyed, endlessly enthusiastic country mums. I love those women – it’s like the group of diehard smokers in an office of health fanatics, we just know too much to be entirely satisfied by lambing season being the highlight of the social calendar.
And now when I do make it to London, I take nothing for granted. I watch my baby’s face fill with delight at the noise, the crowds, the smells and the friends we miss so dearly, and am pretty sure, we have a future Londoner on our hands.